Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Infrared Space Observatory Provides First View Of Monstrous Stars Being Born

Date:
April 20, 2006
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Scientists have secured their first look at the birth of monstrous stars that shine 100,000 times more brightly than the Sun, thanks to ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO).

The ISOSS J18364--0221 region contains two dense cores, each containing enough matter to become at least one massive star. The background image was taken by the Calar Altar 3.5 metre telescope during October 2003 and June 2004. The white contours show cold dust and were taken by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope during May 2003. The diffuse and elongated emission displayed in green is due to shocked molecular hydrogen (was also observed at Calar Alto) and this traces the outflow of the obscured central source.
Credit: s: Birkmann/Krause/Lemke, Max-Planck-Insitut fΓΌr Astronomie

Scientists have secured their first look at the birth of monstrous stars that shine 100 000 times more brightly than the Sun, thanks to ESA’s Infrared Space Observatory (ISO).

The discovery allows astronomers to begin investigating why only some regions of space promote the growth of these massive stars.

Space is littered with giant clouds of gas. Occasionally, regions within these clouds collapse to form stars. “One of the major questions in the field of study is why do some clouds produce high- and low-mass stars, whilst others form only low-mass stars?” asks Oliver Krause, Max-Planck-Institut fόr Astronomie, Heidelberg and Steward Observatory, Arizona.

The conditions necessary to form high-mass stars are difficult to deduce because such stellar monsters form far away and are shrouded behind curtains of dust. Only long wavelengths of infrared radiation can escape from these obscuring cocoons and reveal the low temperature dust cores that mark the sites of star formation. This radiation is exactly what ISO’s ISOPHOT far-infrared camera has collected.

Stephan Birkmann, Oliver Krause and Dietrich Lemke, all of the Max-Planck-Institut fόr Astronomie, Heidelberg, used ISOPHOT’s data to zero-in on two intensely cold and dense cores, each containing enough matter to form at least one massive star. “This opens up a new era for the observations of the early details of high-mass star formation,” says Krause.

The data was collected in the ISOPHOT Serendipity Survey (ISOSS), a clever study pioneered by Lemke. He realised that when ISO was turning from one celestial object to another, valuable observing time was being lost. He organised for ISOPHOT’s far-infrared camera to continuously record during such slews and beam this data to Earth.
During the ISO mission, which lasted for two and a half years during 1995–98, the spacecraft made around 10 000 slews, providing a web of data across the sky for the previously unexplored window of infrared emission at 170 micrometres. This wavelength is 310 times longer than optical radiation and reveals cold dust down to just 10K (–263° Celsius). A catalogue was produced of the cold sites in the survey.

Birkmann and his colleagues investigated this catalogue and found fifty potential places of high-mass stellar birth. A campaign of follow-up observations using ground-based telescopes revealed that object ISOSS J18364-0221 was in fact two cold dense cores that looked suspiciously like those associated with the birth of low-mass stars, but containing much more mass.

The first core is at 16.5 Kelvin (–256.5° Celsius). It contains seventy-five times the mass of the Sun and shows signs of gravitational collapse. The second one is around 12K (–261° Celsius) and contains 280 solar masses. The team are currently studying the other potential sites.

Although ISO is no longer operational, ESA is currently participating in the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s infrared mission, Akari (former ASTRO-F). It will fill in the blanks in the ISOSS data by surveying the whole sky at six infrared wavebands. Beyond Akari, ESA will continue to pioneer infrared astronomy with its space telescope, Herschel, due to launch in 2008. Birkmann says, “With its 3.5 metre mirror and its far-infrared detectors, Herschel will unveil the earliest phases of massive star birth in unprecedented detail.”

This work could also help make sense of the most distant objects in the Universe. “When astronomers look billions of light years into space, all they can see are the bright, high-mass stars in very distant galaxies. If we can understand how these stars form, we may be able to apply that knowledge to understand how galaxies evolve,” says Krause.

The findings appear on the 20 January 2006 issue of The Astrophysical Journal (637:380–383). The original article, titled “Very cold and massive cores near ISOSS J18364_0221: implications for the initial conditions of high-mass star formation,” is by S. M. Birkmann and D. Lemke (Max-Planck-Institut fόr Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany), and O. Krause (Max-Planck-Institut fόr Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany, and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, US)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Infrared Space Observatory Provides First View Of Monstrous Stars Being Born." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060420171434.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2006, April 20). Infrared Space Observatory Provides First View Of Monstrous Stars Being Born. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060420171434.htm
European Space Agency. "Infrared Space Observatory Provides First View Of Monstrous Stars Being Born." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060420171434.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) — Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orbital Cargo Ship Reaches International Space Station

Orbital Cargo Ship Reaches International Space Station

AFP (July 16, 2014) — Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned cargo ship arrived Wednesday at the International Space Station carrying a load of food and equipment for the six-man crew at the research outpost. Duration: 00:33 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins